Talkin’ ’bout next generation

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With just a month left until the launch of next-generation consoles, ScreenRobot discusses if the time is right to invest in a new box under your TV

After the announcement that Ubisoft’s highly anticipated open-world action game Watch Dogs has seen a hefty delay from November to “Spring 2014”, stating they need time to “polish” and “fine tune” the game in its late stage of development, many were thrown into disarray over what to do in lieu of one of the year’s most anticipated games, and one which was seen to bridge the gap between the current and next-generation consoles.

Curiously, it seems adopters of the PlayStation 4 are feeling the sting more than their Xbox One counterparts. Whereas fans of Microsoft’s next console are turning their sights onto other Xbox One launch games, such as Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3, indeed if they even had eyes on Watch Dogs in the first place, PlayStation gamers are clamouring for a replacement game. For some, Watch Dogs was their one and only PS4 title. “Currently I’m at a loss for what my first next gen game will be,” says VolcasarusReX, a Reddit user speaking to ScreenRobot. For others, it’s just a disappointment, “I’m a little bummed about the pushed back release, date but I’m still pretty excited about getting my PS4,” says FninNO, “besides I’ll have Killzone and maybe even Knack to keep me busy until then.” Indeed, PS4 exclusive Killzone: Shadow Fall seems to be the most popular alternative, with EA’s Battlefield for a similar action fix, and Knack, PS4 designer Mark Cerny’s pet project, is also on the cards.

Can family-friendly Knack compensate for Watch Dogs?

But despite this wide array of PS4 titles on offer, a fair amount of gamers are opting to cancel their pre-orders for Sony’s much sought-after console, throwing away a guaranteed unit amongst rumours of a post-Christmas wait for those who have yet to pre-order. “I most likely won’t be getting one until next year now… [Watch Dogs] was going to be my main game on the PS4,” says LikeWhiteOnRice. “Watch Dogs was the only thing that kept me wanting to buy a PS4 on launch day,” echoes kornflakesxd, “now that it is gone to next spring, I think I can wait till the platform get more titles I’m interested in.”

The delay of just one game has caused such a stir that gamers are beginning to question their £350 purchase, one that has been in the pipeline for most of the year. What’s interesting, though, is that Watch Dogs is also available for current-generation consoles and PC.  If Watch Dogs, alongside Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV, and several other “next-generation games” are also releasing on current generation consoles, why do we feel we need a new generation of hardware?

This will be the first time Sony and Microsoft’s consoles launch in the same year

In fact, there are only two PlayStation 4-exclusive games available at launch, Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall, after Sony experienced another PR nightmare with the delay of next-gen racer DriveClub. Xbox One meanwhile has Ryse, Forza, and Dead Rising to fall back on, but is this handful of games really enough to warrant buying a new console? Of course with a new generation of consoles comes a promise for a better future, and there are certainly enough games coming, but the outcry at Watch Dogs’ delay proves that gamers are looking for something now.

It comes out of a primal need for new technology in this digital age. Consumers need the latest gadget and toy, even if the investment isn’t quite worth it. Even though next-generation consoles are number one on everybody’s Christmas list, all signs point to a platform that isn’t quite ready to launch.

Watch Dogs wasn’t ready. DriveClub wasn’t ready. DICE, the makers of the Battlefield series, has recently come out expressing development concerns for the PS4 and Xbox One iterations of Battlefield 4, saying that it, too, was almost delayed. Alongside Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4 has even been revealed to running at 720p on the Xbox One, a noticeable downgrade from their PS4 and PC counterparts. It comes amongst rumours of Xbox One-exclusive TitanFall also struggling to hit its 1080p resolution target, and then there are the constant murmurings of Microsoft’s last-minute tinkering with the Xbox hardware, still making changes at the zero hour. It becomes a question of not if we’re ready for a new generation, but if the consoles themselves are.

It goes without saying that consoles get better over time. If we compare PS3 launch game Resistance: Fall of Man to, say, The Last of Us, the benefits of waiting to pick up a new console are obvious. But the PS3 launched when the PS2 was on its last legs anyway, and it wasn’t difficult for the Xbox 360 to capitalise on where the Xbox fell short. Now though, there just isn’t much to differentiate the current and new generation of consoles. These next-gen experiences just aren’t enough of an improvement over the consoles we already own, and if you’re buying a new machine with the promise that “things will get better”, should you be buying them at all?

Images: Sony Computer Entertainment. Microsoft. Ubisoft.

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